Thursday, December 12, 2013

Slate returns to the subject of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill

Last year the subject was Andrew Lamb's disciplinary situation.  Slate's coverage was better than average for the Andrew situation in early 2012 but the entire series A Confluence of Situations (starting with part 1 and cumulatively going to part 15, be warned, it's about 18,000 words of material) was written, in part, to show how far all mainstream journalistic coverage fell of ascertaining the broader background of Andrew's disciplinary situation and the role former Mars Hill pastor James Noriega had played not only in the development of "biblical counseling" at Mars Hill in general but in its history of real estate acquisitions in particular.  In other words, the fuller story of how all the parties ended up where they were by early 2012 involved roughly a decade of history of Mars Hill that started with Mark Driscoll not getting the real estate he wanted for the initial plant of the church.  All that is for the reader to consult at leisure.

The story this time, allegations of plagiarism, is quite a bit simpler and far more easily documented.

One of the more recent developments in the story is that Mars Hill Church has rather passive aggressively tried to shift blame for improper citation on a research assistant that is not named.  The trouble is that the now deleted "battle plan" for the Trial study guide was found by Warren Throckmorton.  The initial reading of Wenatchee The Hatchet is that, per comments from Glenn Lucke at the Docent Group, sufficient documentation was provided by Justin Holcomb for proper citations to have been made.  If Mars Hill PR attempted to shift blame to a now former research assistant sent to Driscoll by Docent was supposed to put out a fire it's the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet that MH PR just poured gasoline over an open flame.  Compared to the essentially kangaroo court former executive elder Scott Thomas put Paul Petry through as documented by Petry's website Joyful Exiles the recent plagiarism allegations are simple. 

A striking quote from Graham's new piece is the following:

For a guy known for his aggressive leadership style, Driscoll is also a master of passive-aggressive behavior.

While Graham quotes from this piece, "We even lie about our lying", which got discussed some over here at Wenatchee The Hatchet. But as passive aggression goes it is the opinion of Wenatchee The Hatchet that Mark Driscoll's most impressive feat would be the entirety of this blog post, "The hardest part of ministry"   While the safety of Driscoll's relatives is a serious concern in itself it is useful to bear in mind how far back Driscoll has described his career and style as one of deliberate provocation.

Certainly this year's October 26 entry from Driscoll reads differently than Mark Driscoll back in 2004.
Radical Reformission
ISBN 0-310-25659-3Mark Driscoll

copyright 2004 by Mars Hill Church

page 14
... So I married Grace, began studying Scripture with the enthusiasm of a glutton at a buffet, and started preparing myself to become a pastor who does not go to jail for doing something stupid. To pay the bills, I edited the opinions section of the campus newspaper, writing inflammatory columns that led to debates, radio interviews, and even a few bomb threats--which was wonderful, because the only thing worse than dying is living a boring life.

As a potential sample of what inflammatory stuff Driscoll said he wrote while editing the campus newspaper there is, apparently, this. Perhaps The Daily Evergreen archives will provide more grist for the mill if asked.  Driscoll has recently taken up editorial duties at The Resurgence, which doesn't seem to have particularly needed them but who knows if it might not be useful for Driscoll to have something to do while Mars Hill PR decides how, when or if to respond to recent developments.  This week's moves on the part of MH PR ... well ...

Of course a man past 40 with five children will see things differently but Driscoll, as we've seen, has made a long history of being a provocateur and that he could describe "a few bomb threats" as "wonderful" in 2004 meant he still had that rosy sentimentality about the threat of violence in response to things he said and wrote despite being a parent.  A bit odd but nobody would say Driscoll is the most typical person, would they?

Graham's new article in Slate states that Mefferd has apologized for the interview but stands by her allegations:
“I stand by my allegations of insufficient sourcing, absolutely and unequivocally,” she said by email. “His plagiarism is a very serious ethical and moral breach. Academics and journalists alike have lost their jobs over less than what Mark Driscoll has done.”

As allegations go, there's been a recent change in a certain board. This is an excerpt from the Mars Hill Governance page from 2012:

In the event that a formal charge and/or accusation is made against Pastor Mark that, if investigated and found to be true, would disqualify him from his position as an elder in Mars Hill Church, a group of five men consisting of both elders within Mars Hill Church and Christian leaders outside of Mars Hill Church, will investigate the charge or accusation and determine if it is true. This group currently consists of Jamie Munson, Dave Bruskas, James MacDonald, Darrin Patrick, and Larry Osborne. If the charge or accusation is found to be true, this group can rebuke Pastor Mark or, if warranted, remove him as an elder at Mars Hill Church. If Pastor Mark is removed as an elder, he automatically ceases to serve on the Board of Elders, on the Executive Elder Team, and as president of Mars Hill Church.”

That wording is discussed over here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.

As of November 23, 2013 the line-up for a group that might assess charges or accusations against Mark Driscoll looks a bit different.
Dr. Tripp joins the current Board members: Michael Van Skaik, Dr. James MacDonald, Dr. Larry Osborne, Mark Driscoll, Dave Bruskas, and Sutton Turner. This Board of Advisors and Accountability was voted upon and installed by an overwhelmingly supportive vote from the entire eldership, with every single elder who voted doing so in approval.
Let the record show that Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner are among the governing persons of Mars Hill Church as a registered non-profit corporation in Washington state.

Governing Persons
Vice PresidentBruskas, Dave1411 NW 50th Street
PresidentDriscoll, Mark1411 NW 50th Street

In other words these are men who work for Mark Driscoll, who is legal president of the church.  Larry Osborne is credited by Mark Driscoll as having an advisory part to play in the 2007 re-org that included some controversial terminations of two elders, specifically Bent Meyer and Paul Petry, documented over here.  Mark Driscoll is now officially on the Board of Advisors and Accountability, a board with shifting membership and in a setting where what Mars Hill Church has publicly made available about the nature of its governance has shifted drastically in the last 18 months.

So on the board of advisors and accountability are Mark Driscoll himself and two guys who are holding executive leadership roles in the corporation.

If Paul Tripp is part of a team that would consider allegations or charges against Mark Driscoll it remains to be seen if they will meet or reach any conclusions.  After all, Mefferd has made the allegation that Mark Driscoll has plagiarized and Intervarsity Press has sounded off on what they consider improper use and inadequate citation of one of their publications.  The research assistant can't be blamed to any effect both because the person isn't named and if it's who a number of Christians writers suspect was implied, is a man whom Docent Group is willing to defend over against nebulous insinuations by Mars Hill Church.  It's gotten to the point where it seems that men who have defended Driscoll from criticism in the past are no longer leaping to his defense. If Mars Hill Church public relations people thought that passively blaming research assistants was going to work it looks like they've just poured fuel on to a fire, but that's just Wenatchee The Hatchet's opinion.